Calligraphy Addressing Tips

One of the biggest questions I receive via emails - on my private Facebook community with all the students I've taught (yes when you register for any of my workshops you gain access to our private calligraphy space!) is about envelope addressing. Now, there's A WHOLE LOT of stuff that goes into envelope addressing so this guide is intended for those of you who have taken one of my workshops or a different calligraphy course. Plus April is National Letter Writing Month so send a letter to one of your friends!

Here's a few things that I believe are ESSENTIAL to calligraphy addressing.

bedsidesign calligraphy addressing

1. The Slider Writer: this new gadget just came out this year. I've joked a bit when I suggest this because technology finally came to the rescue for us calligraphers. The Slider Writer is that clipboard contraption in the photo above. It has LASERS! That's right folks, lasers. It's a clipboard, laser lined guide with a ruler built in and fancy rubber bands that can snap your envelopes, place cards, or whatever you're addressing in place! It is worth EVERY.SINGLE.PENNY. It's saved HOURS of my life - before this if I wanted anything straight I'd have to use a pencil and ruler or a Phantom Liner - which is a handy dandy tool but causes the craziest optical illusion. Anyways, buy this Slider Writer. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. Waterproof Ink: my all time favorite black ink is FW's acrylic black - which just so happens to be super affordable + it's waterproof.

3. Ink Holder: I know, I know...promoting my own creation could be taboo BUT it really makes my life so much easier. No more over inking. No more spilling one ounce jars of ink all over the place.

4. Writing Utensils: You'll need a nib, holder, pencil, and eraser. My favorites are the Brause ef 66 nib, the Speedball Straight Holder OR the Speedball Oblique Holder, any pencil will do just sharpen that bad-boy and write LIGHTLY, and my go-to eraser is the Pentel Click Eraser.

5. Cleaner: I LOVE Lysol or Clorox kitchen wipes. They are super affordable (hey Lysol or Clorox - do you wanna sponsor me since I go through these wipes like they are water!) and they can clean your tools, workspace and your hands.

6. The obvious things: envelopes & guest list. Make sure the envelopes aren't super textured - that will make for an extremely frustrating time. Make sure you SPELLCHECK EVERY ADDRESS. I know when I move into the calligraphy part of addressing I'm not focusing 110% on the spelling - I'm focusing on the spacing, the ink, and the letterforms. Spell check everything before you start. I like to print out my guest lists so that I'm not constantly turning around to look at my computer. Plus I like the feeling of putting a check mark next to the address when I complete it.

OPTIONAL: I hate accidentally smudging envelopes by stacking them sporadically across my desk. I picked up a super affordable dish rack from IKEA and actually use it as an envelope drying rack. Not only do the drying envelopes have enough space to stack evenly but it also has a bottom tray where I put the blank envelopes waiting to be addressed. 

bedsidesign calligraphy addressing tips

Each job that I do uses different envelopes so I can't always come up with a layout that applies to all. The size of the envelope will interact with how large you should create the address. It's important to know what else is going on the front of the envelopes - postage, return address? My rule of thumb is to typically leave blank space that takes up approximately 1/4 - 1/3 of the entire envelope at the top - unless instructed differently by the client. 

I'm using standard A7 sized envelopes here (5.25 x 7.25 inches). I started the first line for the address at roughly 3 inches. I typically leave about 1 inch of space between each line. Using the Slider Writer makes these transitions super easy! Here I'm directly inking with my pen onto the envelope. I highly suggest when starting out to use a pencil and write out the entire address. By writing out the entire address in pencil first you'll be able to see if you need to adjust the spacing - does one line bleed off the envelope? Erase it and write it out smaller. 

bedsidesign calligraphy addressing tips

When I write out the street name I usually try to indent it from the line above. Doing this allows some dynamics between the lines and words.

There are some "etiquette rules" about addressing that can play into your addressing. A lot of the rules were created a long time ago and it has become acceptable to abbreviate states, and streets whereas before it was considered a no-no. Always double check to see what the client wants.

bedsidesign calligraphy addressing tips

If you're working on your own envelopes you will have the artistic freedom and liberty to address them however you see fit. You can keep the zip code on the same city, state line or you can bump it down to the bottom. You can abbreviate or spell everything out. You can write centered or staggered. You can write diagonally or straight. You can write in all lowercase, case sensitive or if you're really daring all caps (typically you don't write in all caps calligraphy!). The important thing is to have fun with it! 

bedsidesign calligraphy addressing tips

After your envelope is addressed with ink let it sit and dry. I ideally love to let my envelopes sit overnight (some envelopes are more absorbent and need longer - some need less). If you used pencil you can erase it if the ink is 100% dry (otherwise you'll smudge the ink and create a hot mess). Be patient, it's better to wait for the ink to dry vs. having to redo an envelope due to impatience!

There you have it - my steps! If you have questions please feel free to comment and ask! I'll do my best to answer them as throughly as possible. I'm also a SUPER visual person so if you have specific questions or would like a critique please feel free to email me (bedsidesign (at) gmail (dot) com and attach a photo!).

Disclaimer: The address listed above is NOT my address. If you want to mail me something feel free to contact me!